When 'Legends' were thin on the ground — Part 7

John McFarlane [Senior]   07/08/2018 20comments  |  Jump to last
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To conclude the list of players who represented Everton from the 1946/47 season, when the Football League resumed after World War Two, until the 1950/51 season when Everton were relegated to Division Two.

Edward Sagar

Born 7 February 1910; Died 16 October 1986

The oldest player ever to appear in a first-class game for Everton, Ted Sagar was 42 years 281 days old when he took his bow, in a Second Division game at Plymouth Argyle in November 1952.

Rather slim-looking and perhaps a shade underweight, Sagar was on the Goodison Park playing staff for 22 years 302 days, a record a at the time for long service by any player with a single club. He actually remained at the club for 24 years and 5 weeks.

An ex-miner, he took over from Bill Coggins in the 'Blues' goal and was a regular every season up to the Second World War, missing only one game when the League title was won in 1931-32, and gaining a second Championship medal in 1938-39, and an FA Cup winners prize in 1933.

After 61 games during the Second World War, when free from Army duties in Denmark, Italy, and Iraq, he regained his place from George Burnett and was first choice for another five seasons.

He amassed 463 League appearances, and was capped 4 times by England in 1935/36, it should have been more, for Sagar was one of the finest goalkeepers of his era.

An Everton legend, he made his debut for the 'Blues' in a 4-0 home win over Derby County in January 1930 and became famous for his headlong dives towards the ball, regardless of how many players were blocking his path. He was a fine shot stopper and had an uncanny ability to pluck high looping balls out of the air with timely precision, completely without nerves.

But for the lack of foresight on the part of the Hull City Board, Sagar may never have found his way to Goodison Park. As a youngster he was playing in the Doncaster Senior League for Thorne Colliery, when an eagle-eyed Tigers scout spotted his talent, he was given a trial but was surprisingly not taken on, allowing Everton to step in and sign him for nothing.

Ted Sagar's Everton career record was 497 appearances.

George E Saunders

Born 1 March 1918; Died 1982

Recommended to Everton by Dixie Dean, George Saunders was a reliable, consistent, hard-working defender, respected on and off the terraces, whose safety-first tactics of clearing the ball first time was his trademark. He was a firm tackler but never dirty, and could get enormous distances with his headers.

He played two seasons with Everton 'A' before signing professioinal forms and owing to the Second World War, he had to wait until September 1946 before making his debut against Arsenal in front of more than 40,000 fans at Goodison Park.

Prior to that, he had appeared in one Regional League game against Liverpool in December 1939; a fine golfer, he was also a cousin of Ron Saunders.

George Saunders's Everton career record was 140 appearances.

Alexander Ernest Stevenson

Born 9 August 1912; Died 1985

'Wee' Alex Stevenson scored 7 goals in 12 games for Rangers before moving to Goodison Park. A wily brainy player, one of the best of his generation, and as nimble as a mountain goat, he could create an opening out of nothing, and often scored a goal in the same way. He was a great supplier, first to Dixie Dean, and then to Tommy Lawton, and a splendid partner to Jackie Coulter before the Second World War.

Stevenson, who helped Rangers win the Scottish crown, made his Everton debut against Arsenal in 1934, and was a League Championship winner with Everton in 1938-39, scoring 10 goals in 36 outings.

On the international front, he won 17 full caps for Northern Ireland and 7 with Eire, his last in 1948-49, and played in one 'Victory' international game against Scotland in 1946.

Alex Stevensons's Everton career was 271 appearances, 90 goals.

Edward Francis Wainwright

Born 22 June 1924; Died 30 September 2005

Eddie Wainwright was one of Southport's major gifts to football. He started with High Park in the resort's Amateur League before being spotted by Everton and signing amateur forms in 1939. In his early days, he was farmed out to Fleetwood to aid his development.

He improved rapidly during the early years of the war, and played a great deal of Army representative football, where he came under the eye of Arthur Rowe, who was later to manage Tottenham Hotspur's famous 'push and run' side.

His goalscoring feats rekindled Everton's interest and in September 1943 they gave him a first team debut in a League North game against Manchester United, the youngster playing alongside pre-war internationals like Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer.

An intelligent ball player with a fierce shot, Wainwright played a major role in Everton's 1949-50 FA Cup run which was ended in the semi-final by Liverpool. That same year he toured the USA and Canada with an FA party and represented the Football League against the Irish League, a 3-1 win, Jackie Milburn grabbing a hat-trick.

The latter stages of his career were ruined by injuries. In December 1950, a tackle by Derby County's Chick Musson broke his leg, but he fought back and was in the Everton side that won promotion to the First Division in 1954.

Eddie Wainwright's Everton career record was 228 appearances, 76 goals.

Thomas Gordon Watson

Born 1st March 1914; Died 2001

Gordon Watson arrived at Goodison Park in January 1933 and went on to become one of Everton's greatest servants, he had been playing with Blyth Spartans in his native North East and quickly impressed with his close control and fierce tackling.

He made his League debut in 1937 and appeared in 27 pre-war league games, he was twelfth man on so many occasions during the 1938-39 Championship season that his team-mates clubbed together to buy him a special cushion, so that he could have a comfortable seat on the Trainer's bench. He had an impish sense of humour and took it all in good spirit, never once bemoaning the fact that he was not in the team.

After the war, he was appointed first-team trainer, and in 1968 he joined the club's Promotion's Department; by 1985, he celebrated 52 years with Everton.

Gordon Watson's Everton career record was 66 appearances, 1 goal.


Reader Comments (20)

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Rick Tarleton
1 Posted 08/08/2018 at 07:10:13
Eddie Wainwright is the only one of this group I actually saw play, though Sagar was a legendary figure, much talked about in my early years at Goodison. Thanks again, John for this wonderful series of memory joggers.
Terry White
2 Posted 08/08/2018 at 17:39:23
Like Rick (#1), John, Eddie Wainwright was the only one of this group that I saw play and then only in my early days of being taken by my Dad to Goodison. Ted Sagar was indeed a legend at that time as Rick says.

Thank you for all your contributions. Are you working on another one? I am giving up on Peter Mills's favourite XI which he promised after your own excellent series started this off.

John McFarlane Snr
3 Posted 08/08/2018 at 18:04:58
Hi Rick [1] and Terry [2] I only recall seeing three of the final five players featured, Ted Sagar, George Saunders, and Eddie wainwright, although there is a possibility that I saw 'Wee Alex' Stevenson, because he was playing when I began my 'pilgrimage' [or should that be penance ?] in 1948.

Yes Terry, I have another article gnawing away in my mind, but it embraces the three Merseyside clubs Everton, Tranmere Rovers, and of course our 'Illegitimate Cousins' from across the park.

I trust that you will find it interesting, you and Rick are part of a small group of 'Webbers' who have stayed with me since I took to my one finger typing, and although it is a labour of love, I must confess I do derive a degree of satisfaction when people like yourselves express your kind remarks. Best wishes John.

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 08/08/2018 at 18:20:52
Ted Sagar, was the goalie when I first watched Everton, a very good keeper even though he was getting on then, that last game he played versus Plymouth was because Jimmy O'Neill was away playing for Eire.

George Saunders was another dependable full back, a bit like one of your previous choices Eric Moore, he played a lot in the first. season I went and the team always seemed, to me, to be the same:. Sagar, Saungers Dugdale, Farrell, TG Jones, Lello, Corr, Wainwright, McIntosh, Fielding and Eglington.

Alec Stevenson was getting on a bit when I saw him, I think he played in the 1948 derby game, a great schemer I saw most of his game in the reserves at that time, did he become player manager of a local non league team, possibly Bootle?

Eddie Wainwright was a good goal scoring inside forward who was pretty good at taking penalties, scored the one versus Spurs which turned out to be the winner in the 1950 cup run,

I'm not sure if I saw Gordon Watson in the first team might have seen him play in the reserves but could be getting him mixed up with Stan Bentham, Gordon I remember mostly as being first team trainer for many years.

Thanks for this series John, it has been very interesting, I'm presuming this is the last in the present series as you are down to the letter "W"so you will have to get your head down and think up another series for us to enjoy, I haven't got any ideas to offer you except famous games played by the Blues since the forties, over to you John but thanks again for making us auld fella's use our noggins.

Bill Watson
5 Posted 08/08/2018 at 19:28:17
All before my time, John, but I always find your glimpses into the past fascinating.

I worked with Ted Sagar's son (Dave?) in the 1970s, around the time his dad ran the Ship and Anchor in Aintree.

After Gordon Watson retired he still worked at Everton, doing this and that, behind the scenes. I well recall one incident that really tested his sense of humour.

In the run in to the 1970 League Championship I was on a club coach to the game, led by Gordon. It was, of course, pre M62 so a much longer trip than today. We decided to have a stop and the coach pulled into a pub which had a large (empty) car park and a prominent No Coaches sign.
Gordon, resplendent in his club blazer and tie, approached the landlord and said, "It's OK landlord. We're an official Everton Football Club party and, on behalf of the club, I can vouch for all the members."
The landlord replied, "I don't care if you're from the Pope, you're not coming in here. Can't you read?"

As far as the match was concerned I think we'd already won the League but Wednesday were fighting relegation. They were all over us and I recall Jack Whitham (once of Liverpool but not sure if before or later) hitting the woodwork a couple of times. Needless to say we won 0-1 with Morrisey scoring the goal, if my memory is correct.

John McFarlane Snr
6 Posted 08/08/2018 at 20:49:16
Hi Dave [4] I've just got back from the research department and Gordon Watson played in the [78,299] 1948 derby game, and a week later in a home game against Preston North End, Gordon only played four games that season his last appearance was against Burnley at Turf Moor. so you will have seen him. We'll have to have that cup of tea in the Church soon. Best wishes John.

Hi Bill [5] I'm not trying to be picky but Ted Sagar had the Blue Anchor, while I was in the research department I looked up the details on Jack Witham, he signed for Liverpool in May 1970 and the match you saw was on April 4th 1970, and you're spot on, Johnny Morrissey did indeed score the only goal of the game. Best wishes John.

Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 08/08/2018 at 21:22:29
John (6), thanks for that John, that's another player I didn't know I'd seen, yes we'll have another cup of tea in St. Luke's church, but it might have to be an evening game I will let you know in advance.

Regarding Jack Whitham, didn't Liverpool sign him for a decent fee and he did next to nothing for them then when they let him go he scored a hat trick against them for the team he signed for?

Bill Watson
8 Posted 08/08/2018 at 22:34:03
John; of course, The Blue Anchor!

Dave; I think he was a bit injury prone at Liverpool and I do seem to recall him scoring three against them. I can't remember who for, though.

Peter Mills
9 Posted 09/08/2018 at 12:02:12
Dave, Bill, I had to look this up as I remembered Whitham scoring a hat-trick for Liverpool. It was against Derby. He eventually left Anfield for Cardiff, so I doubt he scored against the rs.
Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 09/08/2018 at 17:55:54
Peter (9), yes you could be right, l doubt if he scored a hat- trick for Cardiff against Liverpool, maybe I dreamt it, mind you all my dreams are about Everton scoring against them. !!!!!
John McFarlane Snr
11 Posted 09/08/2018 at 19:44:34
Hi Dave [10] I've just checked Jack Whitham's playing record, it's quite impressive but short lived. Sheffield Wednesday, 63 appearances 31 goals. Liverpool 15 appearances 7 goals. Cardiff City 14 appearances 3 goals Reading 19 appearances 3 goals [a hat-trick against Hartlepool United] Appearances 111, goals 44.

I'm getting my season ticket changed back to my name from our Nicki's, she won't be too pleased, what with all these new lads coming in! It's a case now of 'Get me to the church on time' for that 'cuppa' Best wishes John.

John Hughes
12 Posted 10/08/2018 at 03:36:54
I remember when I was a young man that Dixie Dean had the Dublin Packet and Alex Stevenson had the Shropshire Arms on Chester Town Hall square. Also George Burnett had the Marlboro pub in the city centre and Charlie Leyfield had The City Arms in the Saltney area of Chester.
Tony Sullivan
13 Posted 10/08/2018 at 12:01:40
Hi John, thanks for this great series, as Dave Abrahams said it 'makes us auld fellas use our noggins'.

I haven't written in up to now as my first match (on my own) was in 1952 I was age 7 years. Amazing to think I could walk from Heyworth Street in Everton. The game was against Doncaster Rovers and Eggo (Tommy Eglinton) scored five, think I paid sixpence to get in.

I remember well, and saw, many of the players you have recalled. Eddie Wainwright was one of my favourites and always gave 100% and scored regularly, did he play without his false teeth? It always seemed to make him much older.

I was just reflecting during yesterday's transfer window hiatus, having just read your article, that in those days in the 50s, the game was a sport, as against today's multi-billion-pound industry which has changed the game beyond recognition, a modern day example would be the cynical antics and posturing of Jose Mourhino (and he is not a player!).

Without getting too nostalgic, I still think of those times as part of the 'good old days', and I am happy to say I have had many great times following the Blues.

Thanks again, John.

John McFarlane Snr
14 Posted 10/08/2018 at 15:23:08
Hi Tony {13] firstly thank you for your kind words they are much appreciated, I am from the same 'neck of the woods' as you, I lived at 75 Everton Road until 1950 when my mother died, and then moved to Argyle Road [Cabbage Hall] Anfield, to live with my Grandma.

I have related this tale countless times, I am from a large family of Evertonian's and on that day, [ September 27th 1952] a cousin of mine was married, and I was the only one to attend the game, and when I was asked for details I said, "I'm not telling you, you should have gone yourself", and yes, Eddie Wainwright did play without his dentures, and on that day he was only 28 years old.

They were indeed happy days, and I believe that they're turning a sport into a science, but I'm afraid that I'm programmed to go to the match no matter what.

I would imagine that like myself in the close season, your Saturday afternoons would have been spent in the Everton Palace. Best wishes John.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 10/08/2018 at 15:39:02
Tony (12), we might have bumped into each other that day, Everton v Doncaster, when you reached Everton Valley I'd have been walking up from Netherfield Road or Kirkdale Road, by the way I think you would have paid 9d. in old money,just under 4p. in today's currency
Tony Sullivan
16 Posted 10/08/2018 at 16:20:59
John @14, Yes I remember the Everton Palace, lived in Abbot St off Heyworth St, but we used to go to the Mere Lane Cinema for the Saturday matinee (Hopalong Cassidy, Durango Kid, Gene Autrey et al) in the close season only of course. I seem to remember we called them Bug Houses!!

Dave @15, Yes your right 9 old pence. I know I was supposed to go in the Boys Pen, which was then in the corner of Gwladys Street (later moved to the Bullens Rd corner of the Paddock), somehow I ended up in the Glwladys St end in a 'big' crowd, I couldn't see a thing, until I was passed to the front and was sat on a stantion from where I had a great view of my first game alone.

In fact when I graduated from the Boys Pen when I left school (OLI St Domingo Rd), my spec was always in that Bullens Rd side of the Street End until my season ticket days.

Tony Sullivan
17 Posted 10/08/2018 at 16:32:16
Dave @15, sorry, forgot to say I used to go up Sleepers Hill and along Robson Street to Breckfield Road. Used to get 4penneth of chips in the 'chippie' next to Goldie St at the top of Sleepers Hill.

Great days, eh!

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 10/08/2018 at 18:01:19
Tony (17),yes I graduated from the boys pen to the Street end, went all over Goodison Park until I settled in The Upper Bullens around thirty years ago, I played against Our Lady Immacs. for The Friary ( Netherfield Road RC), later on they had an inside forward who played for England Boys and later signed and played for the Blues: Jackie Keeley, he scored against Sunderland in an FA cup match, might have scored two in fact.

Growing up around the same area, great days indeed, more happy memories than sad ones.

John McFarlane Snr
19 Posted 10/08/2018 at 18:13:17
Hi again Tony [17] I'm afraid you've got the boys pen location in the wrong sequence, it moved from the end of Bullens Road to Gwladys Street. My route to Goodison was Via Landseer Road, Hamilton Road, and if I remember correctly, Monk Street, Robson Street, Sleepers Hill. and Walton Lane. Best wishes John.
Tony Sullivan
20 Posted 10/08/2018 at 20:11:01
Dave@18 Jackie Keeley was an icon in our school remember going to Goodison to see him play for England Boys. I remember going to Bolton on a football special Boxing Day 1958 I think and Jackie Keeley scored in a 3-1 win I think??
His brother Franny was a couple of years ahead of me at school, I think they lived in Venmore St off Robson St.
John@19 yes your right about the Boys Pen. What is amazing is my route to Goodison from Abbot St was Monk St,Robson St, Sleepers Hill, so you must have regularly passed our house, my paper round delivering the Echo took in HamiltonRd, Landseer Rd etc.
Amazing how TW stokes all these memories from another generation. This series has been brilliant bringing all this back, I have really enjoyed it and sharing memories with other 'auld fellas'

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